Tuesday, 25 September 2012

My Double Geraniums cushion cover, looking very summery in the October issue of Marie Claire. You can get your own spot of summer from We Heart This.

I spent Saturday printing ribbon at the Central Library in town, and it was great fun. I met loads of people, and chatted about printing non-stop.

It was so interesting how many people said "Oh! It's like potato prints!" Exactly.

I adore demystifying things, I really do. One man asked a lot of questions about the process, and ended with "But what if I can't draw?" so I showed him some of my geometric blocks and said "Just start with shapes." Someone else asked how to turn a block into a pattern - I said "Just repeat it: anything becomes a pattern if you repeat it." She grinned!

Lots of people wanted to know where they could buy the printing blocks, and when I said I made mine, they stepped closer to the table and got really interested.

And lots and lots of people asked about classes. So, you know, I'm thinking about it.

But a really strange thing happened when people asked how they could find out more and I directed them to tutorials on my blog. Some actually stepped away and mumbled "Oh, computers.... no, I don't do that." Others looked very disappointed and insisted that they needed to be shown how to do things - they needed classes.

I was quite gobsmacked. It has never occurred to me that anyone would lack confidence in their ability to learn things. A lack of information or resources or time, yes, but if those are available, to feel that you can't make use of them? To feel that you can't teach yourself how to do things? I can't imagine what kind of teachers these people had (or didn't have, obviously). I can understand feeling left behind in a class, or being taught badly by a lazy teacher, or struggling with badly written instructions - those things have happened to me. But to have info at your disposal, and to be able to puzzle through it at your own pace, and still to feel that you can't even start..... that you need an expert to show you....

I attended some talks at the Open Book Festival this weekend too (I saw Neal Stephenson! Neal Stephenson! Phew!) and one of the topics briefly touched on was scientific literacy. The ability to judge and compare information, to understand processes, to follow reasoning, to analyse. To do research.

Now, learning to stamp cloth isn't going to save lives, or educate people about climate change, or even really enable anyone to generate a decent income for themselves. But perhaps learning that they can learn something by themselves might be valuable.

So while I am thinking about teaching classes, I'm aware that for it to be worth my while, classes will have to cost something. And while I do give away everything I'd tell you in a class, for free, on my blog, I'm aware that nooo.... computers... no.

I'm hatching a plan. Watch this space. (It's alright, you can blink, you won't miss it. It will be a while in the making.)


twolittleflowers said...

I can understand people wanting a class instead of figuring it out. Learning in person is far better than muddling along with written or visual instructions - for me anyway. I like to ask questions. Also, in a class you often have lots of different products/tools/bits to try which you may not be able to afford when you are muddling along by yourself.

Anyhow - the real reason for me leaving a message...we are in CT around Christmas - I'd love to join you for a class!! I will be keeping my eyes peeled.


Jesse said...

Fair enough - there are different learning styles. I hate video tutorials, because they rarely provide an overview at the beginning, but other people swear by them. Also a good point about the equipment!

Ruby in the Dust said...

you'd be great, you should totally do it. maybe an existing school or somewhere with the space and tables and everything already set up? I think some people just need that push to get started; a friend of mine was scared she'd make a mess of printing but loved it when she tried. people forget that they used to do it with apples and potatoes when they were little!

Seamingly Sarah said...

I want to follow someone around their printing studio so I can learn all the tricks and tips without making the mistakes myself. I have a mini screen printing press in my basement just collecting dust because I don't know where to start. And what little printing I've done hasn't been as crisp and clear as I would like. I just don't want to troubleshoot, or I don't have to time to.

Billy said...

Although I can follow a tutorial, I think nothing beats personal contact. Sometimes we just don't value enough what we know how to do, because it is so easy for us.

Yay! Go teach! :)

andrea Mckeen said...

I think the creative energy you find in a class can be so wonderful. From the teacher, your fellow students, etc. I do enjoy puzzling through things on my own at times and figuring out my own way of doing something, but visually seeing someone demonstrate a process can fill in many blanks for me. I am a visual learner and watching the process can really help to bring it all together in my mind. And I would most surely pay for a printing class if at all possible!!

Danielle | In Stolen Moments said...

I am a long-time lurker (and fellow printmaker) and I've gotta say - I hear ya!

I've so often gotten comments at shows that people can't learn how to do what I do, and in my mind I can't help but think how simple it is and how if they really set their mind to it they could learn and they could do even better than I do! I think you are right, it speaks to our educational system and I certainly hope my own children grow up with a can-do attitude!

That being said, classes would be awesome as that contact with other creative people can be so contagious. I would actually love to participate in a class, not necessarily for the skills (though I'm sure I'd learn loads) but for the contact. And speaking of learning loads, I've had a lingering question about your printmaking that you touched on in this post.

You make your own blocks! I get that you use un-mounted lino (I am starting to work that way as well because I'm tiring of the warping that's been happening to my mounted blocks). I see that yours are attached to some sort of clear plastic in some shots. Care to share what you use there? Where you get it?

Thanks for blogging. I learn a lot from this space (and just get inspired!)

Jesse said...

I agree, there are lots of benefits to classes beyond simply learning some skills.

As for the blocks, I cut them from unmounted plastic lino, then glue them to perspex blocks. You can get a good look at them here: http://jezzeblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/transparency.html and here: http://jezzeblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/august-prints.html